Bring­ing a hate crime to light—with Love

An in­ti­mate doc­u­men­tary shows that when Scott Jones was at­tacked, the whole queer com­mu­nity was at­tacked.

The Coast - - COVER STORY - BY CARSTEN KNOX Carsten Knox is a film writer and pro­gram­mer. He’s also a part of the FIN Script De­vel­op­ment Pro­gram this year.

Love, Scott Monday, Septem­ber 17, 6:30pm Cine­plex Park Lane, 5657 Spring Gar­den Road $22.50 fin­fes­ti­val.ca

Scott

Jones’ life changed on the night of Oc­to­ber 13, 2013, al­most five years ago. The openly gay mu­si­cian was at­tacked on a New Glas­gow street by Shane Mathe­son, a teenager with a knife. The in­ci­dent put Jones in hos­pi­tal for months, and took from him the use of his legs.

Laura Marie Wayne, a film­maker and close friend of Jones’, flew home from Cuba when she heard of the at­tack. Her film, Love, Scott, in­cludes ini­tial, in­ti­mate footage from Jones’ hos­pi­tal room.

“I’m one of those film­mak­ers who hates un­pack­ing her cam­era,” Wayne says. “But as soon as Scott was at­tacked, I had a deep sense to bring it with me. There was a sense that some jus­tice could come through the cam­era, and that a re­ally im­por­tant part of the story— that he was tar­geted as a gay man—wasn’t be­ing heard.”

Mathe­son was con­victed of at­tempted mur­der in June, 2014, and sen­tenced to 10 years in prison. But the at­tack was never con­sid­ered a hate crime. Love, Scott makes the case, and more.

“With this cam­era, with our re­la­tion­ship, this felt like the chance to bring Scott’s truth, Scott’s ver­sion of the story to the public,” says Wayne. “Not the me­dia ver­sion, not the po­lice, but Scott’s lived ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The doc­u­men­tary piv­ots be­tween the in­ti­mate and the po­lit­i­cal, some­times in the same scene. Wayne’s friend­ship with her sub­ject means she gets ac­cess to fre­quent, emo­tion­ally charged mo­ments in the months and years of Jones’ work­ing through trauma, his re­turn to the street where he was at­tacked, and a re­con­nect­ing with im­por­tant peo­ple and places in his life. It also de­tails his sub­se­quent ac­tivism. His Don’t Be Afraid cam­paign is an ef­fort to elim­i­nate ho­mo­pho­bia and di­min­ish vi­o­lence and big­otry through con­ver­sa­tion and ex­pres­sion.

For Jones, hav­ing these mo­ments cap­tured and shared is a cathar­tic ex­pe­ri­ence as the film tours the coun­try. It’s al­ready screened at Hot Docs and the In­side Out fes­ti­vals in Toronto.

“Ini­tially, watch­ing it was dif­fi­cult,” Jones says. “It’s been such a long jour­ney. To see it all rep­re­sented on screen, it’s re­ally emo­tional. I’m re­ally happy with it, ob­vi­ously.”

What helps root the film is Wayne’s com­pelling vis­ual aes­thetic, a full swatch of au­tum­nal moods and colours set­ting off Jones’ eyes and beard, where the Nova Sco­tia land­scape mir­rors his in­ner world. And all this with a gor­geous sound­track by none other than Sigur Ros.

“When it came time to start edit­ing, I used that mu­sic, but know­ing that we wouldn’t be able to have it,” says Wayne. “But it be­came so ap­par­ent that noth­ing else would do. Noth­ing else is as deeply as emo­tive or speaks to this ex­pe­ri­ence. So, Scott was like, ‘We need them.’”

Cue a con­ver­sa­tion with pro­ducer An­nette Clarke, and a contact with the Ice­landic band’s man­ager. An email and a small por­tion of the film was shared, with an un­ex­pected re­sult: The band wrote back the next day with a mes­sage of sup­port. “They said, ‘What­ever it takes, we want to give our mu­sic to the film. We’ll make it hap­pen,’” says Wayne. “If some­one had told me as a film stu­dent that one day I would have a Sigur Ros sound­track, that’s the ul­ti­mate. I can re­tire now.”

The film in­cludes Jones shar­ing a let­ter he wrote to Mathe­son, an ex­pres­sion of for­give­ness, but that doesn’t soften or change Wayne and Jones’ mis­sion state­ment.

“I’ve seen the ac­tivism cre­ate change, that’s been a big part of what’s kept me go­ing,” says Jones. “I feel like this film is giv­ing voice to queer ex­pe­ri­ence and cre­at­ing more change, that this is another chap­ter. It’s re­ally mo­ti­vat­ing me to con­tinue do­ing that work.”

“It’s so im­por­tant to be able to name the crime as a hate crime, which it wasn’t,” says Wayne. “One of the things that I learned in mak­ing the film, when a mem­ber of the queer com­mu­nity is at­tacked, it’s not an at­tack on one in­di­vid­ual, it’s an at­tack on the whole com­mu­nity. It cre­ates this resid­ual fear, where peo­ple feel it’s not safe to ex­press them­selves in public. That’s why it’s so im­por­tant not to sin­gu­lar­ize this as a one-off story.”

SUB­MIT­TED

“This felt like the chance to bring Scott’s truth, Scott’s ver­sion of the story to the public,” says film­maker Laura Marie Wayne. “Not the me­dia ver­sion, not the po­lice, but Scott’s lived ex­pe­ri­ence.”.

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